Martinez, Doucet Complete Massachusetts Firefighting Academy

From left to right, Andre Martinez and Matthew J. Doucet are now full-fledged members of the Haverhill Fire Department. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill firefighters Andre Martinez and Matthew J. Doucet were among the recent graduates of 247th class of the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

By completing the academy, the men are now full-fledged members of the Haverhill Fire Department. They were among 29 graduates from 16 fire departments across the state.

“This rigorous professional training provides our newest firefighters with the basic skills to perform their jobs effectively and safely,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy (MFA), a division of the state Department of Fire Services, offers this program tuition-free.

During ceremonies last week in Stow, Yarmouth Fire Chief Philip Simonian congratulated the graduates. He reminded the recruits about the importance of continuing to train throughout their careers and of remaining physically fit to meet the demands of the job, for their own health and the safety of their colleagues. Referencing the Olympics, he reminded them that firefighting is a “team sport” and they should always bring their “A game” to work. Simonian began his career as an auxiliary firefighter with the Yarmouth Fire Department the day he turned 16.

Starting with class 247, the Mass. Firefighting Academy’s Career Recruit Firefighter Training Class shifted from a nine to 10-week program. Instead of three recruit classes of 24 students every three weeks, the program now has two classes of 36 recruits every five weeks. The longer program adds more practical time for recruits, including training in water rescue, power saws, additional live fire training, and more focus on Firefighter I/II practical skills, officials said.

Today’s firefighters do far more than fight fires, officials said. “They are the first ones called to respond to chemical and environmental emergencies, ranging from the suspected presence of carbon monoxide to a gas leak. They may be called to rescue a child who has fallen through the ice or who has locked himself in a bathroom. They rescue people from stalled elevators and those who are trapped in vehicle crashes. They test and maintain their equipment including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), hydrants, hoses, power tools, and apparatus.”

Recruits learn all the basic skills they need to respond to fires and to contain and control them. They are also given training in public fire education, hazardous material incident mitigation, flammable liquids, stress management, confined space rescue techniques and rappelling.

To graduate, students must demonstrate proficiency in life safety, search and rescue, ladder operations, water supply, pump operation and fire attack. Fire attack operations range from mailbox fires to multiple-floor or multiple-room structural fires. Upon successful completion of the recruit program all students have met national standards of National Fire Protection Association 1001 and are certified to the level of Firefighter I and II, and Hazardous Materials First Responder Operational Level by the Massachusetts Fire Training Council, which is accredited by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.